In memory of the late great Ray Wilkins, QPR manager Ian Holloway dedicated his side’s 4-2 thumping over Sheffield Wednesday to his former Hoops teammate.
“I am a very emotional man and Ray’s passing rocked football, the whole world of football – 61 years old is nothing… We feel he was ours, and the beautiful thing about it is that loads of people thought he was theirs – that’s how special he is.”
Emotions were high in the post-match press conference on Tuesday night, and it was made more so with the presence of Ray’s family at the game:
“When you look at what happened last weekend, what can I say? I thought it was a very fitting evening to show Ray and his family how we feel about him, show the world of football how we feel about him.”
After a somewhat anomalous 4-0 defeat away at Hull on Saturday, QPR returned to their recently upturned form with the demolition of Jos Luhukay’s Wednesday team.
Three goals in the first 15 minutes from Paul Smyth, Jake Bidwell and Idrissa Sylla gave the Hoops an unexpected 3-0 lead which they took to half time.
After the restart it was soon 4-0 when Sylla was caught by a late challenge inside the Wednesday box, and afterwards converted the penalty.
Fernando Forestieri and Adthe Nuhui added consolation goals for Sheffield, but QPR saw off the game with ease, despite the absence of defender Nedum Onuah who is serving a three match ban for his red card sustained against Hull on Saturday.
“It was very, very fitting that we forced Sheffield Wednesday into loads of mistakes and we took our opportunities. Every player was at it. We showed out inexperience at times because we don’t always kill things off, but that will come.”
Holloway remains faithful in his younger side, as he has done since introducing them monthe knew year. But it seems their defensive stability is weakening come the run in to the end of the season.
The 4-0 defeat at Hull last Saturday was QPR’s send away defeat in two games, and another defeat to a team still fighting for survival after previously losing 1-0 at Reading at the end of last month.
Defensive woes of late could be in due part to the absence of Onuah and Joel Lynch, who have formed a solid partnership in the heart of the defence this season for Rangers. At the other end, goals are still a plenty, even with the absence of talisman Matt Smith who is injured, and Luke Freeman who was rested for Tuesday’s game.
QPR have now scored 4 goals in the last two home games. Norwich proceeded Wednesday, and succumbed to a Hoops side who have now lost just 1 of their previous 8 home games.
Tuesday’s win finally makes Rangers mathematically safe from relegation to League One, which seemed a scary possibility at the start of the season. But now Holloway’s team can continue to look forward to next season, and the next game which is a home one against 11th placed Preston.
Preston sit just inside the top half of the Championship and QPR could still join them in that half, sitting just 2 points behind middle team Norwich.
The soon departing Jamie Mackie, who’s contract isn’t being renewed before it ends this summer, saw red in the reverse fixture at Deepdale back in December. The red came in the 22nd minute and QPR held on for so long before John Marquis nicked a late goal and all the points.
An away win over Preston would delight the travelling fans who continue to travel in good numbers, and push QPR fighter towards that top half finish that would cap a solid season for Holloway’s Hoops.